I’m pleased to present the 357th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
First up, Colin shares his experiences streaming the Super Bowl on numerous services and devices. Overall the video quality was pretty strong, especially on Sling TV. Colin also used the Fox VR app with Google Cardboard and relays his reactions.
While Super Bowl LI was one of the best-viewed in history, NFL ratings this past season declined across the board and we discuss what’s likely happening. As I wrote earlier this week, the wide adoption of ad-free SVOD feels like a major culprit.
We then transition HBO Now, which Time Warner reported earlier this week now has over 2 million subscribers. Neither Colin nor I are super-impressed with HBO Now’s growth, especially by comparison with Netflix’s performance in the same time period. We both think HBO Now’s relatively high price of $15/month is the key issue.
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Click here to listen to the podcast (25 minutes, 53 seconds)
Here in Boston, our blood pressure is still racing over the unbelievable result of last night’s Super Bowl. The odds of a 25-point comeback with just over a quarter to play are incalculably long. But Patriots fans aren’t the only ones rejoicing this morning; no doubt there’s also euphoria at the NFL’s offices as last night’s game proved once again how riveting professional football can be.
However, the exhilarating Super Bowl cannot fully mask the fact that from a TV audience perspective, this was a season the NFL would just as soon forget. Last Friday MoffettNathanson shared their tally of the final numbers: compared to 2015, overall regular season 2016 TV viewership was down 9% and first 3 weeks of post-season was down 6%. Monday night football was down 13%, Sunday night down 11% and Thursday night down 9%. Compared to 2014, overall regular season was down 7% and ESPN Monday night football was down 15%.
I’m pleased to present the 356th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
This week we explore the concept of “TV as an app,” which represents a paradigm shift in how TV is accessed by viewers. Of course the rise of Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and others has paved the way for app-based viewing, but an entire TV lineup being delivered via an app to a connected TV device is still a significant change from conventional set-top box-based viewing.
“TV as an app” got a boost this week with Comcast’s beta release of the Xfinity TV app for Roku. I’ve given it an initial try and provide some observations. In addition, Colin was moderating a panel on video apps this week and shares further insights he heard.
We then shift focus to this Sunday’s Super Bowl, which will once again feature multiple free streaming options as well as localized dynamic ad insertion in the streams, which is a first. I’m keeping an eye on the ads to see if they offer any meaningful viewer engagement.
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Click here to listen to the podcast (23 minutes, 8 seconds)
This Sunday’s Super Bowl will once again be a showcase for great football and for compelling, creative advertising. As always, advertisers will be spending big to be in the game as the rate for a 30-second spot is approximately $5 million. Add in the cost of producing the ad and pre-promoting it, and the Super Bowl is easily the biggest single advertising investment a marketer makes.
While the Super Bowl ads will no doubt entertain and move us, the bigger question is, will they engage us? Will they spur us do something beyond saying “Wow, that was cool!” before we shift our attention to the next ad or back to the game?
Topics: Super Bowl
I'm pleased to present the 350th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
This week we return to the cost of sports and specifically why sports TV will be under pressure in 2017. Colin noted new SNL Kagan data this week that sports programming now costs pay-TV operators $18.37/month, which is 40% of their total programming budget. Colin also noticed that DirecTV is planning to increase its rates by $2-$6/month next month, which it blamed on the rising costs of programming.
These types of increases will no doubt contribute to a rising level of cord-cutting and cord-nevering, especially for entertainment-centric viewers who now have more choices of great TV shows to watch than ever and therefore have less reason to pay for expensive multichannel bundles. We’ve seen some of this effect already in the soft NFL ratings this season. Then there’s the question of where skinny bundles will fit in with sports; they’ll almost certainly have to keep sports to a minimum to maintain low rates.
As we discuss, all of this threatens the unique value of sports as a firewall for pay-TV, live viewing and advertising - the reasons why sports rights have ballooned in the first place. 2017 is going to be a very important in redefining sports’ actual value in the video ecosystem.
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Hulu announced yesterday that it has struck deals with 21st Century Fox and Disney for access to over 35 different TV networks for Hulu’s skinny bundle, slated to launch in early 2017. The agreements are no surprise given Fox and Disney are Hulu’s two primary investors, along with Comcast (which has a back seat role per restrictions related to its NBCU acquisition) and Time Warner, which recently took a 10% stake in Hulu.
But the devil is in the details, because when it comes to Hulu’s ability to include live broadcast feeds in its skinny bundle, the Fox and Disney deals only get it a small part of the way. Fox owns 17 stations around the country and Disney owns just 8. Since there are 210 DMAs in the U.S. that means Hulu needs to strike agreements with lots of different local station owners to enable a standardized nationwide skinny bundle offer including local broadcast feeds.
As readers of VideoNuze know, live sports is the last bastion of hope for TV execs that want to retain their legendary grip on Madison Avenue. So it’s no surprise The Wall Street Journal catalyzed media insider rumblings with its October 6th piece entitled “Ratings Fumble for NFL Surprises Networks, Advertisers: So far this season, viewership on major networks is down about 10% from last season.” Writers have followed-up with speculation about why the NFL is experiencing the decline.
Is it the content? Perhaps Presidential politics are blame; maybe it’s the “Kaepernick effect”; or, it could be an unlucky streak of boring games.
Is it the disruption of TV ongoing? Perhaps younger viewers are catching the highlights and recaps they need on Social Media. Or young adults might be watching online; or doing something else entirely.
When it comes to questions about the future of Sports Television, Social Media has important things to say. New research from Ring Digital llc gives us insight into the challenges and opportunities facing Sports TV as Social Media consumption grows.
Here are some fascinating findings along with the Thuuz Sports perspective on one possibility that no one’s talking about.
I'm pleased to present the 343rd edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
As has been widely reported, TV audiences for NFL football games have decreased this season, in some cases by double-digit percentages. That has a lot of people wondering what’s going on, Colin and me included.
In this week’s podcast, we discuss the various explanations that have been raised, most notably interest in the presidential election. But, politics aside, we both wonder whether the proliferation of viewing choices from SVOD and other sources are now having an impact. We’ll know more when we see the NFL ratings post-election.
All of this matters because sports (and the NFL specifically) have been critical to the value of pay-TV subscriptions and advertising, which depends on live viewing. If sports viewing declines, that would further upset TV’s value proposition.
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Click here to listen to the podcast (21 minutes, 2 seconds)
Last Thursday night felt like a milestone moment to me in the continued mainstreaming of online video viewing. At 9pm, I turned on my 46-inch Insignia HDTV, toggled to input 3, grabbed my Fire TV remote control, scrolled to the app section, downloaded the Twitter app and began watching the Jets play the Bills over my 100 mbps Comcast broadband connection in pristine quality. Just like that I was watching an NFL game outside the traditional TV ecosystem.
The whole process took just a few minutes and likely could have been accomplished by the least tech-savvy among us. On the surface it might seem like a relatively trivial undertaking, but in reality, the experience reflected the significant technology and consumer behavioral advancements that have taken place in just the past 10 years or so. Every one of these advancements was critical in enabling the Twitter broadcast. And every one of them is also causing the seismic changes roiling the broader TV industry.
I'm pleased to present the 336th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
Like tens of millions of others, Colin and I have been watching our fair share of the Olympics. And like lots of others as well, instead of watching on linear TV, much of our viewing has been via the NBC app. Although linear TV viewing of the Olympics is down this year, NBC has reported that over 2 billion minutes have been streamed.
That reflects a broader shift in viewing behavior over the last few years as consumers move from linear to on-demand viewing using various devices. Colin and discuss the implications of this and what we might see in 2020.
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Click here to listen to the podcast (23 minutes, 44 seconds)
I'm pleased to present the 335th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
First up this week, Colin and I dig into Disney’s new $1 billion investment in BAMTech, the technology spin-off of Major League Baseball Advanced Media. We both like the move as it further positions Disney to capitalize on online delivery, while protecting itself from ongoing changes in viewers’ behavior. In this case, Disney’s sheer size gives it the resources to keep its options open.
Next up, Colin and I were both surprised by Hulu’s move earlier this week to jettison its free, ad-supported viewing service to a new partnership with Yahoo. Colin wrote a great piece earlier this week listing the 5 most important reasons why he thinks this was a mistake, which we discuss. Hulu continues evolving away from its roots, as it prepares to launch its skinny bundle next year, which brings its own set of challenges.
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Click here to listen to the podcast (23 minutes, 51 seconds)
Say this for Disney - in just the past couple of years or so it has moved to cover virtually every bet for how online video might impact the company in the future.
With its Maker Studios acquisition, Disney expanded into YouTube-style content creation for kids and millennials. With DisneyLife, it’s moving into SVOD entertainment beyond its pivotal output deal with Netflix. Now with Hulu, it’s addressing cord-cutting and the potential of skinny bundles (as well as with deals with DirecTV Now, Sling TV and PlayStation Vue). And finally, with its new $1 billion BAMTech investment, it’s adding platform capabilities for direct-to-consumer live sports streaming. Plus, with the forthcoming ESPN OTT service, it will test its own direct-to-consumer sports offering.
Akamai’s network investments are paying off as the company keeps delivering ever-greater levels of concurrent live sports streams. The latest example occurred with last weekend's Euro 2016 Portugal-France championship match where Akamai delivered a peak of 7.3 Tbps during overtime. That level beat the 2014 Argentina-Netherlands World Cup final which achieved a 7.0 Tbps peak.
Akamai said that over 3.3 million concurrent streams were delivered at peak across 35 rights-holders globally. Akamai’s VP, Product Management Corey Halverson told me in a briefing that a number of network investments in quality and reliability have been instrumental in supporting the record streaming activity.
NeuLion is powering a 4K streaming option for tomorrow night’s UFC 200 pay-per-view event to viewers with Sony HDR Ultra HD TV sets in the U.S. and Canada. The stream is enabled by viewers who download the UFC app from Google Play and pay a $10 additional fee on top of the standard $59.99 PPV pass. All of the 4K encoding and delivery is done by the NeuLion Digital Platform. A parallel 4K telecast is also available to DirecTV viewers using their set-top boxes.
I'm pleased to present the 323rd edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
Colin and I were both very impressed by the demo that Comcast CEO Brian Roberts did at INTX earlier this week of how the X1 set-top box will blend linear TV and online video streams from this summer’s Rio Olympics into one experience.
We both believe this will be a truly breakthrough viewer experience, showcasing X1’s broadband capabilities and the value of the two-way interactive network. We envision Comcast launching a massive marketing campaign in the months leading up to the Olympics highlighting how experiencing the Olympics will be “best on X1,” in turn driving new subscriber acquisitions and upgrades.
More broadly, we discuss how valuable X1 and Comcast’s back-end infrastructure are as a platform for launching new features and services. We touch on how Amazon too is leveraging its platform for its Streaming Partners Program, underscoring the anticipated competition between big video platform owners. The role of a robust platform in determining the ultimate video winners is becoming increasingly clear.
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I'm pleased to present the 318th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
First up this week Colin and I dive into the Parks data from yesterday revealing that just 5% of US broadband homes subscribe to one or more of the 98 SVOD services other than the big three (Netflix, Amazon and Hulu). We agree that the data underscores just competitive it will be for the 98 and growing) minnow SVOD services to breakthrough.
One of those 98 services is Sling TV, which this week announced the beta of a new $20/month multi-stream service that includes select Fox networks. While Colin believes it’s a smart move by Sling TV to further segment the market, I view it as both confusing and also counter to Sling TV’s brand proposition, at least as it’s currently offered.
By separating the Fox networks and ESPN networks on 2 different tiers, Sling TV is in effect forcing sports fans to take both. That means $40/month for just the 2 base packages, and, as best I can tell there are 22 other networks that are duplicated in both tiers (meaning dual subscribers are in effect paying twice for them).
It’s hard to see how this represents breakthrough value and simplification of TV. Rather it just seems like unnecessary confusion, likely driven by Disney and Fox licensing restrictions to hedge against Sling TV becoming too popular.
Listen now to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (21 minutes, 51 seconds)
I'm pleased to present the 317th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
Live-streaming was in the headlines this week as the NFL announced Twitter as its partner for Thursday Night Football games and Facebook unveiled a slew of new features for Facebook Live.
On this week’s podcast, Colin and I discuss details of both of these initiatives, comparing and contrasting the upside. Colin is more enthusiastic about the Twitter-NFL deal, which is still a bit of a head-scratcher for me. Conversely, I’m very bullish on Facebook Live and believe it’s a natural extension of how Facebook is already used. The live-streaming battle will heat up further when YouTube launches its own live feature soon.
All of this means that live-streaming is poised to become a much more mainstream activity going forward.
Listen now to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (19 minutes, 51 seconds)
Underscoring once again how unpredictable the online video space is, Twitter has emerged as the unlikely winner of the rights to stream NFL Thursday Night Football (TNF) games for the 2016-2017 season. Just yesterday I wrote that with Facebook and Apple bowing out, the bidding likely came down to Amazon, Verizon and Google, with Verizon the most likely winner for a variety of reasons.
On the one hand, Twitter’s interest in streaming the TNF games makes sense, as recently returned CEO Jack Dorsey has publicly stated that a top 2016 priority is live streaming, including leveraging its Periscope product. The 10 TNF games give Twitter a marquee property to highlight live streaming, which complements Twitter activity around all games. And Twitter already had a deal in place with the NFL for highlight clips.
Late Friday afternoon, Bloomberg reported that Facebook had dropped out of the bidding for streaming rights to the NFL’s Thursday night package. That news followed Recode’s report from last month that Apple had also withdrawn. With two of the most likely candidates now gone, the only digital players remaining who are both big enough to afford the deal and for whom it potentially makes enough strategic sense are likely Verizon, Google and Amazon (I’m excluding Yahoo since its own instability almost certainly precludes a bid).
The never-ending tussle between pay-TV operators and sports TV networks over escalating carriage fees is back in focus due to the standoff between Comcast and the YES Network, which has the rights to broadcast New York Yankees games, among others. Comcast dropped YES last November, leaving approximately 900K of its New York area subscribers without access to YES. With the Yankees’ opening day one week from today, the standoff is going to gain much more attention.
As with other sports TV carriage disputes, this one boils down to money and audience. Comcast is arguing that YES’s demand for a reported $6 per month per subscriber isn’t justified given its ratings. Last November Comcast said that over 90% of its subscribers didn’t watch the equivalent of even one quarter of the 130 games YES broadcast in 2015. Nielsen said that YES averaged 250K viewers in 2015, a decrease of 44% vs. its peak of 450K in 2007.